week or two back, CBC Radio Manitoba sent out word of something they were calling the “Manitoba Covers Project.” The idea was to take various Manitoba artists into the studio, to record covers of songs by other Manitobans. On the CBC site, producer Kinsey Posen offers the following observation:
Manitoban singer songwriters and musicians have long been celebrated for their talent. Just think of the Crash Test Dummies, The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Eagle & Hawk or Chantal Kreviazuk. Their songs are heard around the world. There’s also a new generation of artists whose music isn’t as well known, but certainly deserve recognition.
With that in mind I created the Manitoba Covers Project to give local artists a chance to pat each other on the back, musically speaking.
So, here’s something interesting for the saint ben’s context. Of the seven artists posted online, two come from our community: Steve Bell and Alana Levandoski. Alana does a really sweet version of Rick Neufeld’s song, “Moody Manitoba Morning,” which was a big regional hit back in the early 1970s. Steve, meanwhile, offers two tunes with saint ben’s connections. There is Gord Johnson’s “Stubble and Hay,” the title track of Gord’s 1993 solo album, and Byron O’Donnell’s “The Greatest Gift.” Gord, of course, is our artist-in-residence and the writer of any number of the songs that have helped to define and shape us as a worshipping community. Byron is our #1 member-at-large, relating to us from his home in Dryden, and the writer of the song that gave us the name for our community book, “Beautiful Mercy.”
Here’s part of what Steve has to say about his contribution to the project (and for the full version of his reflections, go to the post on his website:
I got a call from Kinsey Posen (producer / CBC) this past spring asking if I would be part of a new project CBC was putting together. They wanted to record several Manitoba artists doing the music of other Manitoba artists, and asked if I might record two songs for the project. YES!! CBC has always been enormously supportive of me and I was quite pleased to be invited to participate.
My task was to pick two songs, of other Manitoba songwriters whose work I admired, and come into CBC studios for a couple of days to record. I immediately knew I wanted to cover Gord Johnson’s Stubble and Hay, and Byron O’Donnell’s Greatest Gift (a wedding song). Gord and Byron are both tremendous writers whose work has profoundly influenced mine.
To hear these three songs and more, go to the CBC Manitoba CoversProject site.
You can also get Gord’s Stubble and Hay album on iTunes. Just search for Gord Johnson on the iTunes store.